A Kent dentist who’s served patients for 16 years has been suspended for unsafe and unclean conditions at his dental clinic.
Officials with the Washington state Department of Health said the conditions at Dr. Charles Pan’s office are an “immediate danger” to patients and said problems with infection control were rampant.
KIRO 7 went inside that office and asked Dr. Pan if he was worried.
“Uh no,” he said. “I’m not.”
KIRO 7 spotted dental tools in a solution in the sink, dental molds in baskets and other spots, and many items squeezed into the small space that Pan said was smaller than 1,000 square feet.
“Is it unclean or unsafe?” KIRO 7 asked.
“I don't think so,” he said. “I try to follow all the rules.”
On March 14, health officials received their first complaint: a patient called the office dilapidated, disorganized, and unsanitary. She stated that she was concerned about other patients' safety.
After another patient came forward on May 21, a health investigator visited Pan’s office on May 29 and found failures in infection control, in the areas of protective barriers and sterilization techniques.
“I took it seriously,” he said. “I didn't ignore it or something. I tried my best.”
Pan said one of the things he was instructed to do was to put drills into a heat sterilization machine after every patient instead of putting them in cold, sterile solution after each patient, then heating them at night.
He said he got into a motorcycle accident in August that prevented him from working until last week, so when the investigator checked again around Sept. 25, he was behind.
“Maybe a couple things I hadn’t done,” he said. “Like I said, I didn’t have a whole bunch of time.”
“What message do you have to patients who may hear this and worry about this being a safe place to go?” KIRO 7 asked.
“Oh, they can look themselves, you know,” he said. “I'm not really afraid of anything.”
Pan has 20 days to ask for a hearing to contest the charges. He said he expects to be able to open his practice again.
Follow this link to read a PDF of the Department of Health charges against Pan.
To check your own dentist’s credentials and see if he or she has been the subject of enforcement action, follow this link to the Washington Department of Health provider credential search.